Competitive Altruism and White Self-Destruction
By Ian Jobling
American Renaissance has always expressed anguished bewilderment at whites’ lack of a sense of their own interests. All other races promote their own interests unapologetically, and have prominent, well-funded lobbying organizations. There are no such organizations for whites, mainly because whites themselves oppose their establishment. The few small pro-white organizations that do exist are usually labeled “hate groups.”
At the same time, whites hand out billions of dollars every year in social services to non-whites, and pass affirmative action legislation to help them compete against whites for jobs and education. Whites promote mass Third-World immigration, and white politicians try to make immigration easier and more attractive. Whites willingly — even eagerly, it seems — surrender whole neighborhoods to immigrants. In short, whites consider it praiseworthy to work in the interests of other races, but disreputable to work in their own.
There are several theories proposed to explain this. One, argued by Kevin MacDonald, is that Jews have had a corrosive effect on white group identity. Jews, he argues, have promoted intellectual systems, such as Freudianism, Marxism, and deconstruction that pathologize expressions of white group identity, such as Christianity, patriotism, and traditional family life. He writes that Jews have made movies and television programs that ridicule Christianity and patriotism, and have been among the most powerful advocates of immigration and liberalization in America. They support pro-minority activism of all kinds. Jews, according to this theory, have helped equate any expression of white self-interest with “fascism.”Another explanation of the white race’s lack of a sense of its interests is Jared Taylor’s theory about white altruism, which he outlined in his AmericanRenaissance article, “The Ways of Our People” (Sept. and Oct. 1996). Mr. Taylor believes whites have a unique sense of reciprocity and an inclination to acknowledge the points of view and the interests of other people. He cites the humane treatment of enemy soldiers and rules of sportsmanship that value generosity towards competitors more highly than beating them.
Mr. Taylor argues that the distinguishing and desirable features of Western civilization are based on this deep sense of reciprocity. The elimination of hereditary class status gives everyone an equal chance. Democracy is the belief that the other person’s political preferences ought to count as much as one’s own. Freedom of expression requires the protection of opposing viewpoints. Thus, the generosity whites show towards other races is an extension of this inherent generosity.
While Prof. MacDonald’s and Mr. Taylor’s theories may go part of the way in explaining white behavior, they do not fully account for it. Even if Prof. MacDonald’s theories about Jewish motives are correct, as he himself acknowledges, Jews are only a small percentage of the population of white nations, and could not have corroded white identity without the consent of whites. It was gentile presidents and mostly gentile politicians who passed the immigration reform laws Jews (and others) advocated. Gentiles happily buy tickets to anti-white movies. Prof. MacDonald does not explain why whites consent to their destruction. Mr. Taylor is certainly right to link this consent to altruism, but his account is incomplete because he overlooks one of the primary motives for this behavior.
In order to understand whites, one must recognize that much of their apparently altruistic behavior is actually a form of egoistic competition. What I will call “competitive altruism” is one of the key forces that shape white societies. This form of competition emerges because altruism is linked to social status. People who act altruistically gain the trust and respect of others, which tends to increase their prestige and wealth. It follows that those who convince others they are altruistic reap greater status rewards than those who do not.
One of the primary forms of competitive altruism in contemporary white society is racial altruism. Expressing benevolence for non-whites has become a key to success in white societies. It is virtually impossible to achieve high status without overt expressions of concern and benevolence for non-whites, and such expressions are particularly common because they can be made at no personal cost. The racial altruism high-status Americans promote does have a very high cost, but one that is, in the near-term, borne almost exclusively by low-status whites.
From an evolutionary point of view, altruism can be explained on the assumption that genes build organisms to make more copies of these genes. Altruism toward family members aids the survival and reproduction of people who share one’s own genes; hence, genes succeed in their goal of propagating themselves when people are generous to their close kin. Altruism that is reciprocated also benefits the altruist. It leads to the exchange of favors and goods, and those who practice it generally have a better chance of survival than those who do not.
However, some altruistic behavior is harder to explain. Many acts of kindness or generosity have little chance of being reciprocated. Why do people give to charity and work in soup kitchens? Why do they return lost wallets and rescue strangers from burning buildings?
Several explanations have been proposed, but the one most relevant here is the theory of altruism as reputation-building. Whom would you choose as a business partner: someone who returned a lost wallet, or someone who kept it? Most people prefer the former because returning a wallet shows honesty and concern for others. Altruism makes a person more sought after in economic and personal relationships, so a reputation for altruism can bring social prestige. Indeed, empirical work by J. Philippe Rushton shows that those who show high levels of altruism tend to do better economically than those who are selfish.The psychologist Gilbert Roberts takes this theory one step further. If altruism improves one’s reputation, there is every reason to believe it will become competitive. People will want to show themselves to be more altruistic than others in order to gain friends and prestige. Furthermore, inasmuch as high social status is a key aspect of male sexual attractiveness, Prof. Roberts believes displays of altruism are some of the things men do to make themselves more sexually attractive.
These theories treat altruism as an instinct. There is no reason, therefore, to expect people to be conscious of why they behave generously. They simply enjoy acting altruistically, and they like altruists. Theories about altruism do not require that people understand their own motives any better than a hen understand why she sits on her eggs.
If the competitive altruism hypothesis is correct, we would expect people to engage in public displays of altruism. We would expect competitive altruists to be highly censorious: they should be eager to point out the selfishness of others in order to shine by comparison. We would also expect to see evidence of the relationship between altruistic behavior, social status, and economic gain.
Competitive altruism often takes beneficial forms. If a politician is compelled by competitive altruism to act in the best interests of a group he represents, and to use government money in the group’s interest, he will win more favor among voters than a less altruistic competitor. However, it is also possible for competitive altruism to hurt the group. Since competitive altruists are striving for their own personal ends rather than those of the group, their apparently altruistic actions can easily damage the group’s interests.
Any attempt to prove that one person is more altruistic or generous than another is likely to get lost in intangibles, because altruism is hard to define and pin down. Philanthropy, however, is a relatively definite and easily measured type of altruism, and has been thoroughly studied. The authors of these studies do not write explicitly about competitive altruism, but it is obvious that competition is one of the basic motivations of philanthropic giving.
Francie Ostrower, who has interviewed many philanthropists and is the author of Why the Wealthy Give, reports that one of the principal motives of philanthropy is to gain social status. By giving money to museums, universities, and other charities, American elites carve out an exclusive social world for themselves. Philanthropy is at once a sign of elite status and a way of making connections to enhance that status. One philanthropist described the rewards: “That’s pretty straightforward … Social profile. A new forum for making social connections.” Another said, “One gets into philanthropic efforts or involvements … because you like and enjoy the caliber of the people you’re doing this with.”
The competitive nature of altruism is clear: “If you move to [Xville] and you want to be accepted by the OK people, you break your back to get on the board of the museum … The entr”es leading off that board are not to be believed… You cannot imagine the vying that goes on to get onto that board.” Board memberships are a site of competition between different elite groups. Prof. Ostrower notes that there is often a conflict between the “old guard,” which sees itself as the “true guardians” of the organization, and the “new rich,” who try to eclipse the prestige of the older money by making larger donations. The old guard defends itself as the board’s true guardians by stressing the purity of its altruism as opposed to the mercenary striving of the new rich. “One social elite donor, for instance, distanced herself from the “new rich,’ whom she portrayed as giving for status, implying that she herself did not.”
Just as altruism raises status, its absence lowers it. Most of the philanthropists whom Prof. Ostrower interviewed agreed that “for wealthier members of our society, philanthropy is not a matter of personal choice, but is an obligation.” One donor said that when he sees wealthy people who contribute little, “it gives me a real clue about them as people …” Another said that wealthy people who did not give were “looked upon with disdain, disfavor and [were] highly criticized.”
This type of competitive altruism is clearly one of the basic features of Western culture and is part of the Christian ethic, which exhorts Christians to altruism.
While the Protestants who founded America sanctified the accumulation of wealth, this was to be balanced by charitable giving. The Puritan leader John Winthrop believed God did not make one man richer than others for his own sake, “but for the glory of his creator and the common good of the creature man.” Jonathan Edwards believed charity was at the center of a Christian life. “Where,” he asked, “have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more peremptory urgent manner than the command of giving to the poor?” William Penn ordained to his fellow Quakers “Obedience to Superiors, Love to Equals, … Help and Countenance to Inferiors.” For Penn, money beyond what was needed to assure one’s own comfort should be given to orphans, widows, and the hungry.
The 19th century saw an exuberant proliferation of charitable organizations. The 1830s, for example, were the age of the “Benevolent Empire” of Protestant religious societies that distributed Bibles and religious tracts, promoted missionary work, and succored the indigent. This tradition continued in the 20th century, and was typified by Andrew Carnegie. He wrote about “surplus revenues which come to [the rich man] simply as trust funds … which he is called upon to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community.” Today’s wealthiest foundations were established in the names of 20th century magnate-philanthropists: Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Pew Memorial Trust, etc.
There is no doubt that competitive altruism played a role in this. Protestantism’s most famous theorist, the sociologist Max Weber, emphasized the connection between religious involvement and economic success. After giving many examples of the association between religious observance and business success in America, Weber concluded that throughout American history “sect membership meant a certificate of moral qualification and especially of business morals for the individual.” Climbing within the church through conformity to its principles went hand in hand with success in the business world. Philanthropic giving was important in both worlds, and one’s status increased with one’s generosity.
The current prevalence of racial altruism in elite white culture is due to a shift in the beneficiaries of competitive altruism. In the 19th century, people climbed the social ladder by giving to charities that distributed Bibles to orphans and sent missionaries to Africa. Today, elite commitment to specifically Christian philanthropy has been replaced by competition among whites who make donations to the United Negro College Fund or programs to promote diversity in higher education.
The direction of competitive altruism changed as a result of the power struggle that emerged in the 1960s and “70s between two segments of the American elite and gave rise to what became known as the liberal “New Class,” primarily employed in the public sector, and the business community. The New Class gained power by convincing the public its liberalism was a necessary antidote to the “racism” and selfishness of the “organization men” in the business world. Businessmen responded by trying to prove that the plight of minorities was important to them too, and started donating to liberal charities. Eventually they discovered that racial altruism was good business: the elite patronized businesses that helped minorities. Businesses therefore compete with each other to prove themselves the most racially altruistic. A concern for the interests of whites or even for their survival as a group is now the worst sort of bad taste.
The ideology of the current ruling class had its origins in the New Left movement of the 1960s, of which student radicalism was a part. While the old left had worked mainly for the well-being of white workers, the New Left was more concerned with minorities, the Third World, women, and the environment. In yoking these together, the New Left brought into being what we call “liberalism.”Although predominantly white and Jewish, New Leftists romanticized blacks and Third-World peasants who, they believed, possessed an authentic “humanism” that was, in the words of student leader Tom Hayden, “immune to the ravages of competitive society.” They argued that the United States was dominated by an exploitative, incipiently aristocratic class of white Protestants that was racist, imperialist, and McCarthyite. As the New Left ideologue Susan Sontag put it in 1967:
“The white race is the cancer of human history. It is the white race and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.” According to Mr. Hayden’s 1962 “Port Huron Statement,” the manifesto of this movement, the radicals espoused “generosity of a kind that imprints one’s unique individual qualities in the relation to other men, and to all human activity.”
What better objects of generosity than those groups who were furthest from the mainstream: non-whites, homosexuals, criminals, and deviates of all kinds? Just as Jesus demonstrated his purity by consorting with prostitutes and publicans, the New Left would outcompete all others in altruism by claiming, at any rate, to care the most about people for whom the moneyed classes appeared to care the least.
Capitalism was, of course, the very antithesis of generosity, and the New Left initiated the anti-corporate campaign that has become a permanent feature of the political landscape. They founded groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Institute for Policy Studies, the Economic Research and Action Project, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility. They organized strikes and boycotts against companies, often on the grounds that they discriminated against non-whites. They worked together with minority groups to pressure banks and corporations to hire minorities and stop doing business with South Africa.
These campaigns had a mixed record in changing corporate practices, but were overwhelmingly successful in changing public opinion, particularly among the young. During the “60s and “70s, the New Left completely won the altruism game, and convinced the public of its moral superiority to business. A poll of college students in 1969 found that 94 percent believed business was “too profit-blinded and not concerned with public welfare.” Interest in a business career plummeted; in 1966, only seven percent of Princeton seniors said they planned immediate employment in business. As an article in Fortune found, “The prejudice against business is undeniable, and permeates the country’s highest-ranking colleges.”
The theory of competitive altruism predicts that anyone who manages to prove himself more altruistic than others will rise in status, and that is precisely what happened to the New Left. Many of the student radicals, as well as moderates who sided with them, began to form a new type of elite — it was conservative critics who called it the “New Class” — which prospered in professions unrelated to, and often hostile to, business. According to Irving Kristol, one of this class’s major theorists, the New Class consisted of “scientists, teachers and educational administrators, journalists, and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper level of the government bureaucracy, and so on.” They became the “experts” whose opinions are constantly being quoted to us.As they grew older they consolidated their gains: In the 1970s Mr. Kristol wrote, “In any naked contest with the “new class,’ business is the certain loser.” The emergence and influence of this class can be quantified in American voting patterns: in the 1972 presidential election, for the first time, a greater percentage of the college-educated voted for the Democrats than did the non-college-educated. As recently as the 2000 presidential election, highly educated professionals were still more likely to vote for the left than was the rest of the population.
Although the New Class defined itself in opposition to establishment Protestantism, the conservative critic Michael Novak recognized what they had in common::
“The New Class covers its political campaigns … with an aura of morality so thick it would make the righteous Anglo-Saxons of a century ago envious. Because two of its chief causes — civil rights (including poverty) and resistance to the Indochinese war — are morally sound, it has been able to conceal its own lust for power and its own class interests, at least from itself.”While their form of expression had changed, the basic traits of the race persisted. The New Class had merely found a new way to play the competitive altruism game that has always dominated American life: the only difference was that now blacks and Vietnamese peasants, rather than widows and orphans, were the pawns in the competition for elite status. As Communism crumbled, the people who would once have claimed to champion the proletariat switched to non-whites, homosexuals, and immigrants. The competitive impulse was the same, and the more forceful and public their demonstrations of benevolence, the greater their claim to superiority.
Of course, there is a cost to racial altruism, though it is almost never borne directly by the people who practice it most publicly. The Supreme Court justices who ordered racial integration of schools in 1954 never suffered from their ruling, nor is it likely their families did either. It was working- and middle-class whites, who shared little of the altruistic zeal of the justices, whose schools were wrecked. The same is true of every aspect of the “civil rights” revolution. The elites who insist on altruism have enough money to buy at least temporary reprieve from the need actually to practice it. The current fad of fawning over non-white immigrants works the same way. Rich boosters get cheap labor and docile nannies. The rest of us get crime, bad schools, and neighborhoods where we are a despised minority.In the long term, of course, the costs of racial altruism will catch up even with the elites, one way or another. White politicians who pander to Hispanics will be badly disappointed, as Congressman Robert Dornan of California discovered. He represented part of Orange County for 18 years, as it gradually became more and more Hispanic. In 1995 he claimed to an interviewer that he was not at all bothered by this change: “I want to say America stays a nation of immigrants. And if we lose our Northern European stock — your coloring and mine, blue eyes and fair hair — tough!”
The very next year, Hispanics voted in Loretta Sanchez, the 36-year-old daughter of immigrants, who kept telling voters how Mexican she was. This is precisely what Mr. Dornan’s cheerful view of immigration should have prepared him for, but did he concede defeat gracefully? No. He accused Miss Sanchez’s supporters of vote fraud, demanded recounts, and was a thoroughly bad sport about it all. Suddenly, racial altruism had a cost, and he screamed like a stuck pig.
For most white elites, justice will not be quite so swift or poetic. As the tide of color rises, they will have to spend more money to stay beyond its reach. Some will catch themselves wondering if racial preferences didn’t keep little Johnny out of Harvard. Others will have a moment of pique when the classical music station switches to salsa. A few will even be mugged or murdered when they take the wrong freeway exit, and actually meet some of the people they claim to love. Our rulers and opinion-makers will have occasional brushes with the corruption, squalor, and incompetence of Third-World America, but will use their money to carve little oases of Western Civilization out of the wreckage — at least for a while.Eventually, though, even they will see the obvious: that the non-whites racial altruists bring to power in America will not fritter away their gains in displays of moral superiority the way we do. An America run by non-whites will be a very different place; competitive racial altruism is not a game non-whites play. Ordinary Americans discovered this long ago, and must force their rulers to abandon habits and vanities that will eventually destroy us all.
Ian Jobling holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is the webmaster of the American Renaissance website and a writer for American Renaissance magazine.